The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia

Mark Kramer
Content Type
Journal Article
The Washington Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Center for Strategic and International Studies
In the latter half of the 1990s, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was preparing to expand its membership for the first time since the admission of Spain in 1982, Russian officials claimed that the entry of former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO would violate a solemn ''pledge'' made by the governments of West Germany and the United States in 1990 not to bring any former Communist states into the alliance. Anatolii Adamishin, who was Soviet deputy foreign minister in 1990, claimed in 1997 that ''we were told during the German reunification process that NATO would not expand.'' Other former Soviet officials, including Mikhail Gorbachev, made similar assertions in 1996—1997. Some Western analysts and former officials, including Jack F. Matlock, who was the U.S. ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1990, endorsed this view, arguing that Gorbachev received a ''clear commitment that if Germany united, and stayed in NATO, the borders of NATO would not move eastward.'' Pointing to comments recorded by the journalists Michael Beschloss and Strobe Talbott, former U.S. defense secretary Robert McNamara averred that ''the United States pledged never to expand NATO eastward if Moscow would agree to the unification of Germany.'' According to this view, ''the Clinton administration reneged on that commitment . . . when it decided to expand NATO to Eastern Europe.''
NATO, Government
Political Geography
Russia, United States, Europe, North Atlantic, Moscow, Germany, Spain